A nice guy that I've just met. Now's your chance. Take a look at "Cho5en" from William Dickstein; just beware his thumbs!
1. Are you currently working on any projects and what can we see?
I am! I have new stuff I’m working on all the time. The Ch05En brand is diversified across short stories, comics, and I have a draft of a full-length novel that I’m shopping around to agents right now. So I’m always working on those three things. At the moment I’m spending time crafting the second novella in the Ch05En: Factions Anthology. The first, Ch05En: Freelancers, was released last November. I had surgery at the beginning of this year and the recovery sapped a bit of my mojo so this latest novella is a bit behind. My second trade paperback for the comics, Ch05En: Grizz Volume 2, was released March 1 2017, so I’ll have some new comics being drawn towards the end of the year.
2. Is there a particular concept or piece you are most proud of in your work and why?
I’m always the most proud of whatever I’ve just released, I think. I work hard to make sure that I’ve improved in some way for each new Ch05En work that comes out. Ch05En: Grizz Volume 2 had an amazing release that bumped up the first book to the top-10 of quite a few categories. I was #6 in comic books the same weekend that Logan was released, so my book was surrounded by a bunch of Wolverine titles. It was amazing!
3. Do you have any formal training? Do you even think it's necessary?
This is a great question because I do have formal training and I do think it’s necessary, depending on what your goals are. I’ve approached everything I’m doing from the brand perspective – each of the works that I release is important but they’re all representations of Ch05En as a product line. Where growing the brand is concerned, I have a lot of formal training. My day job is in Marketing and my degree has a heavy Marketing focus.
I have less formal training where the products themselves are concerned. A lot of people are going to be able to get by just fine with prose, I think, if they work at it. Others can probably make great comics without anyone showing them how. At the end of the day, I think training will help if you have a specific goal in mind. I knew early on that I needed help actually framing and piecing together a coherent story-line. It was very easy for to write something that meandered. After a little guidance, I realized I like to use four acts in almost all of my work. Some people understand how that progression works all on their own. For the rest of us, having a guiding hand can really help you to tell the story you want to tell, rather than be left with something that was close but not quite what you wanted. Ira Glass sort of said it best. To paraphrase – there’s a period of time that every creator goes through where you have good taste but don’t quite have the talent to produce the type of work you want. Ira wants you to keep creating until you reach the point where your level of talent has caught up to your taste. I agree, I just think you’ll probably have an easier time getting there with some training.
4. How did you stumble into the Indie Comics scene?
I knew when I started self-publishing Ch05En works in 2013 that I wanted to expand the brand into comics. I really didn’t have the opportunity to dive into the scene until 2015. I had released a #0 issue of a series called Ch05En: Brass Man that unfortunately stopped at the origin issue. After that, I saved as much as I could as quickly as I could and set out to find somebody who would draw Ch05En: Grizz Volume 1. There was an extremely steep learning curve where paying people to draw your work was concerned. I cut my teeth on the ComicBookCollabs board on Reddit. The community there was extremely helpful and I was able to put together a post that attracted a lot of attention. Once I had my pick of a few people who were cool with my budget, it was an easy thing to settle on Lukasz and Kamil, the artists I worked with on the Ch05En: Grizz series.
5. Who's your hero? Athlete? Family member? Teacher? Caped Crusader?
I’m a Green Lantern fanboy through and through. I didn’t get into comics until I was 21 and had already spent a large part of my life judging superheroes how most people do: by their powers. Even before I knew that the Green Lantern comics spoke to me on a much deeper level, I loved the idea of a ring that could create anything I could imagine. The Green Lanterns from earth have a pretty good track record of being stewards for each generation. At 27 years old, my generation’s Green Lantern is Kyler Rayner. As a kid, seeing a superhero who could make anything he wanted with the ring on his finger, including dinosaurs or other wacky things, I couldn't help but be excited. I daydreamed a lot when I was younger about all sorts of stuff, getting to see them come to life always sounded so cool. When I actually started to form a real relationship with comic books, the Green Lantern titles started to really hit home from a lot of angles, leading to me slapping a shoulder-size GL tattoo on my left side. The tattoo is my reminder to never stop just because I’m afraid, to keep myself focused on my goals no matter what life tries to distract me with, and to always do my best to help those around me.
6. Do you even read comics, bro? If so which ones, if not...why not?
The DC love doesn’t stop at Hal and his pals – I read almost every DC title. On average I read almost thirty comics a week across DC and Image with select Darkhorse, Marvel, and IDW titles thrown in. I’ll follow a series I like with anything that isn’t DC but it’s got to really draw me in. While we’re sort of on the topic, I think Saga is one of the greatest comics to probably ever be produced. I guess I felt like sharing that because I gave GL so much love.
7. You can earn a comfortable living doing ANYTHING. What is it? Feel free to explain why.
This is probably weird coming from someone who is trying to make it as a writer but….talking to people. Networking might be a better term for it. I’m a social butterfly, man. I love walking into a room full of people I don’t know and working my way into conversations, getting to know strangers. It isn’t uncommon for me to wander off by myself at a festival and drop the same observational joke over and over until I catch a group of people who are receptive enough that they want me to join them. I’m operating under the impression with this question that I would only do this eight hours a day. I like my alone time very much and I like having time to work on things I'm passionate about. But forty hours a week talking to people for a livable wage? Sign me up. Also, I know I was supposed to say writing but I'm really enjoying it as a serious hobby right now. If I could make it my career in a decade or so, that would be great.
8. Where can people see more of your work or find out more about you?
9. Anything else you'd like to share with us? Political view. Religious view. Baby on the way? Your first job? Email address? Favorite sports team?
I plan on purchasing my first home this year! Also, I have those big hammerhead thumbs - the ones that Megan Fox made famous most recently. Mine are obviously bigger than hers. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I will DESTROY you at thumb war. But seriously, check out Ch05En: Episode 1, it’s permanently free!